Q&A with Grass Fed's Mike and Ezra
If you’re in the Montreal area today, you might want to consider dropping by Santé Cannabis on 1239 rue Amherst to see a screening of Grass Fed, a documentary examining comedian Mike Paterson’s journey to improve his overall quality of life and get back in shape for his wedding with a little help from medical marijuana.
Grass Fed serves as an interesting contribution to the current cannabis conversation in Canada. Where did the idea for this project come from?
ES: I’ve been fascinated by industrial hemp and medical cannabis ever since my friend Zed Starkovich of www.hempfarm.org taught me about the unparalleled versatility of cannabis when we were at NYU studying film together in the early 90s. I tapped into the edibles craze that’s been floating around the zeitgeist the past few years and pitched a TV series idea to now-Grass Fed producer Jesse Prupas at Muse Entertainment (www.Muse.ca). He loved the idea and when I approached Mike Paterson as a host for the series, I learned he was struggling secretly with awful sciatica back and leg pain. Jesse and I decided to shape the project around Mike’s journey with edibles (nothing else had worked to treat his sciatica) and transform the concept from a TV series into a full-length documentary about Mike’s adventure.
You visited Tweed's Smiths Falls location and toured our plant with company president Mark Zekulin. How did our facility stack up against your expectations/ (and) what you've seen elsewhere?
ES: Honestly, I was like a kid in a candy factory. Er, a chocolate factory. Tweed blew us away. The scale, scope and smell of the facility was unlike anything I ever imagined could have existed. We visited other grow sites in California and Colorado but nothing came close to Tweed. The only thing I can think of that was anywhere close to the Tweed experience was a giant hemp field I visited about 7 (seven) years ago near Quebec City. The smell was heavenly and the sun was shining on all the 10-foot tall plants. That was a pretty memorable day.
In June the Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana be made available to Canadians in the form of extracts, including edibles. Ezra, you said the move would prove to have a “profound effect on society.” Can you elaborate on that point?
ES: I had followed Owen Smith’s case pretty closely as it was taking place while we were filming Grass Fed. The unanimous Supreme Court decision on this issue pretty much told patients unequivocally that logic and the law were on their side. As long as there is now fair follow through by Health Canada, and by the Canadian government in general, this ruling should, in my humble opinion, eventually give patients access to a full range of medical cannabis products. And once this happens, doctors and patients can actually see if medical cannabis, in all shapes and forms, is indeed a viable go-to option. From all my reading on the subject and discussions with patients, it seems like cannabis is in many cases, though not necessarily all, incredibly effective in treating a mind-boggling amount of symptoms, conditions and diseases (and promising for applications we haven’t even imagined yet). All this to say, if Tweed is never allowed to sell infused chocolate products out of the old Hershey factory, something will still be wrong with the system. I mean, it only makes sense, no?!
We never advertise marijuana as a panacea but advocate it as a part of a larger lifestyle change, often as an alternative or additional pain management strategy. Mike, in what was has that recipe proved true in your life?
MP: Sleeping is so much better with cannabis when there are pain-filled nights. I don’t always use it to go to bed but it certainly helps when I do use it. I’m probably the least stoned comedian in a weed documentary ever. I tend to use it when I am not working, and a lot of times, that is at the end of the day. Cannabis really helped me get back in the gym because it reduced my pains and stiffness. In essence it becomes part of a bigger lifestyle change.
In the film you proclaim, “Medicine has never tasted so good!” Other than learning that cannabis can be a delicious medicine, what else did you discover over the course of this project?
“I discovered that Monika's regular brownies aren't as good! ” –Mike Paterson
MP: I discovered that Monika's regular brownies aren't as good! Lol. It's really important to discover that you can take it in low doses. In stoner culture the idea is to get as stoned as possible. But low doses can be quite effective for pain management and you're not all loopy. Also eating cannabis negates the munchies because you've already eaten something. People keep saying that that doesn't work for everyone, but it certainly did for me. When I am high I get really Interested in stretching my body instead of eating chips. This movie was quite a journey for me. I for the most part have only met people who used cannabis recreationally, some maybe too much. The journey I took on Grass Fed introduced me to many people who use weed to be a part of society, which I think is a refreshing message. I want to be the poster boy for responsible weed use. But I realize that this is a real long shot.
The introduction of marijuana to your personal pain management strategy also allowed you to “stop taking crazy pain pills.” How satisfying has that victory been?
Absolutely. I really like eating and pain pills were really messing with my stomach. So now I can manage pain in my back without having stomach pains
Before you started using cannabis you were concerned about the health impacts and side effects of smoking. How has the difference in means of consumption opened your eyes to the potential of this plant to provide a medicinal solution to significant health issues?
I'm also vaporizing now! It has been fun to learn new smoke-free ways to enjoy my medication. But Monika's brownies are still my favourite method.
Last one, Mike you have a fresh new coif. A part of the new you or just time for an update?
MP: I was hired to be a platinum-haired rock and roll holiday angel for a communications company's ad campaign. Filming the ad, I was strapped in a harness and hanging from a crane 20 feet in the air, so I could fly down Matrix-style in my golden tuxedo to explain to a 20-year-old how to stream music off his phone.
Hanging from a harness Mission Impossible style? Sounds like the back pain is under control!
Here’s to future growth.
The documentary Grass Fed, produced by Muse Entertainment in association with the CBC’s Documentary Channel, screens at Santé Cannabis in Montreal on Wednesday, December 16th at 7:30PM (guests can rsvp to firstname.lastname@example.org). For those who aren’t able to attend, Grass Fed is also now on iTunes Canada and Google Play Canada. Visit the Grass Fed Facebook Page.
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